Leadership and the Challenge of Climate Change

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Recent events have dramatized the urgent need for swift and courageous action in response to climate change. Thundering rivers in Germany and Belgium, unheard-of “heat domes” over large parts of North America and uncontrolled forest fires and floods around the globe have made it clear that mankind must quickly limit the emission of greenhouse gases and adapt to the increasing disasters caused by climate change.

Given this situation, what is and should be the content of environmental leadership? To begin with, it should be mentioned that no single environmental leader can tackle the challenge of climate change alone. What is needed instead is collaboration between many executives. Leadership must come from a variety of sources including governments, private companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and affected individuals.

Later that year almost all nations become leaders Meeting in Glasgow for a critical round of climate negotiations. These leaders have to keep in mind that global emissions have increased significantly since the Paris Agreement in 2015. with the largest emitting countries bearing the greatest responsibility for cuts.

To help developing countries avoid the polluting mistakes that wealthier nations have made since the beginning of the industrial revolution, some meaningful resource transfers from wealthier to less developed countries will be required. In addition to providing funds to protect the environment, these resource transfers must also include clean energy generation and business management technologies.

Much change is required within the United States too. Our country must again use its continued influence abroad to promote effective climate-related reforms. The US played an active role behind the scenes in the arduous negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement. Much more of this quiet, determined diplomacy is needed in Glasgow and beyond. In addition, the United States must set a good example to other nations in fulfilling its own climate responsibility. Laws to regulate greenhouse gas emissions directly and directly are long overdue. In addition, mitigating climate change must be a government-wide priority, not just EPA province and the Ministry of Interior. There is also a great need for federal financial aid for federal states and municipalities to combat climate change.

State and local governments, in turn, play an important role in mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects. These governments are particularly well positioned to examine critical local infrastructures and take the necessary steps to elevate roads, bridges and critical structures, reinforce dams, protect local sources of drinking water and take other prudent steps to protect people and property climate-related damage.

Along with government agencies, the private sector also has an immense leadership role to play in largely averting a climate catastrophe. Since many industrial plants emit greenhouse gases, private companies can and should investigate the extent to which these substances are released from their own plants. And if greenhouse gas emissions are observed, these companies must take immediate steps to switch to carbon-neutral methods of manufacturing products and using energy – even if this is not required by law.

Like the government and private corporate sectors, NGOs also play a crucial role. These organizations must conduct their research carefully and scrupulously avoid making exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims. Such claims tend to undermine public and private sector confidence in the urgent need to protect the climate. NGOs must continue to catalyze legitimate public concerns while driving political and economic change that will help mitigate the climate crisis.

After all, private individuals can also play a valuable role. They can closely observe the changes in their environment, keep up to date with trends and developments with regard to the global climate and express themselves individually about the necessity of climate change.

Each of these proposals will require effort and sometimes significant investment on the part of many people. Many of them seem difficult to reach. Nonetheless, it should be remembered that the species to which all humans belong was called “homo sapiens”, Latin words meaning “wise man”. The complex challenges of the climate crisis offer our species a remarkable opportunity to live up to that phrase.

Joel A. Mintz is Professor Emeritus of Law and C. William Trout Senior Fellow in Public Interest Law at Nova Southeastern University College of Law. Mintz is a former EPO enforcement attorney and chief attorney. He is the author of three books and numerous articles on EPA enforcement. He is also a member of the Science Council and board member of the Center for Progressive Reform.


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